Barney Miller

Barney Miller was a popular situation comedy which ran on ABC from January 23, 1975 to May 20, 1982. It starred Hal Linden as the Captain of the 12 precinct of the New York Police Department. Also in the cast were Max Gail, Ron Carey, Abe Vigoda, Ron Glass, Steve Landesberg, Jack Soo, James Gregory and Gregory Sierra. Some of those actors came and went (Vigoda left to star in a spin-off, Fish) and one died (Soo, during Season 5).

Abby Dalton played Miller’s wife in the pilot — taped at CBS and called The Life and Times of Captain Barney Miller — which also included Linden and Vigoda. ABC did not like the end product and the result was played off among other unsold pilots in the Summer of ’74. But in the meantime, creators Danny Arnold and Theodore Flicker had reconfigured the show and shot another pilot which ABC picked up for mid-season status. The second ticket above is from a taping done more than a month before the show debuted. The new version featured Barbara Barrie as Miller’s wife but the producers soon decided that the show should be about the Captain’s job, not his home life, and Barrie’s character wound up getting mentioned often but was rarely seen.

Barney Miller tapings were notorious throughout the industry for their marathon hours. It was not uncommon for the evening taping to be followed by a complete rewrite of the script. The audience would depart and the writers would go to work with producer Danny Arnold supervising or doing most of the heavy lifting. Retaping would eventually commence and could easily last until 1 or 2 AM. There were nights when it did not conclude until much later, with some tapings reportedly stretching until dawn. Needless to say, some episodes as aired contained nothing that had been taped before the live audience and were sweetened with canned laughter. But the show was successful and received multiple Emmys, Golden Globes and even a Peabody, so most involved seemed to think it was all worth it.